The recent algorithm changes at Google have forced me out of my winter cave so that I can comment on some of the things happening in the world of freelance writing and search engine optimization. Forgive me for being so quiet for some time as I have been undergoing a major business reorganization. That reorganization effort has completely consumed my working time and effort. I have much work left to do. So don’t expect me to stay active too long. I will be getting back to real business in the near future. This series of posts will likely be short-lived. Even though they are short-lived though, I intend to make them juicy.
As everyone knows, some recent changes have been made at Google, to their algorithm, that affects a substantial percentage of search engine results. Google has upgraded the quality standards for the material found in its search results. This is on top of enacting a previous algorithm change at the beginning of February 2011 that targeted scraper sites. Here is a snippet from their latest update – the first one I mentioned.
This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites that are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis, and so on.
I am hoping that this post falls under their original content and thoughtful analysis categories. (lol)
Apparently not that many popular sites were hit with the scraper update. However, a lot of big websites, especially article directories, have been hit hard by this most recent update. According to some statistics, some of those websites have lost more than half of their rankings in the SERPs and consequently suffered a huge loss in traffic.
One of the worst ones hit was EzineArticles.com where I happen to be a writer. Apparently, Google finally felt enough pressure (I think this was mostly Matt Cutts acting in response to feedback from his blog followers) to do some type of algorithmic response to the rise of content farm content in their search results.
Think of content farms as places that basically farm out content generation for their website. They could farm it out by publishing articles from other writers or by using some kind of script to generate automated sometimes computer-generated content on their website. They didn’t really go after all content farms though. They went after ones that do not publish unique content.
I don’t think that they targeted weak content very well or else Ehow.com would have suffered more of a hit. Instead, they appear to have benefited in some respects. All of those other article directories that allow everyone and anyone to publish on them have been clobbered. This has really rocked the writing world as well as people who use those websites to promote their own brands and websites.
Naturally, there has been an outcry from the writing community, especially over at EzineArticles.com. It prompted a massive increase in visits to their blog for posts like this one about the algorithm change and this one about article quality. You will see a couple of comments on those posts that belong to me. Don’t bother to go look for them though. My comments were not very juicy. I was simply trying to be helpful.
Over the last couple of days, I have written a couple of long comments that I was going to post over there.
Some of you who know my history might remember that I try to refrain from posting nasty things and saying mean things in posts. This is why I refrained from posting over there. I did not want to say things in the heat of the moment that I would later regret saying at all. So, I deleted some of them immediately after writing them. I did save a couple of them though. I intend to publish them here. Of course, I am going to rewrite them somewhat so that the value behind my opinion stands out and the heat is turned down so as to not offend.
I am a little self-serving too. I figured why to bother adding that much new unique high-value content to their blog when they have made it so difficult for me to add high-quality content to their article directory over the time that I have been writing for them. So look for a post or two in the very near future about this whole matter.
Back to the topic of this post –
Since learning what the heck I was doing online I have been a steadfast proponent of producing valuable unique content for people and nothing but. That is the only business model that really stands a chance at surviving long term. If you have found a way to get some kind of automated spam-based business to actually pass a visual inspection and make money too then you are far smarter than me. I have accepted the fact that success online must come from adding real value. It is nice to see that my preaching is being validated by the actions of the search engine Gods.
I don’t know how you guys have been affected by this algorithm change. My websites have been pleasantly surprised by a boost in rankings for some long-tail searches. The boosts occurred with sites that I felt were under-ranked given the true value they provided to people. (Yay cloud!) I think this is because a lot of the crap that was ahead of my stuff was really crap. Google finally knocked some of that crap down where it belongs leaving the rest of the websites (that provide real value to people) to compete for the top spots in the SERPs.
Have you been affected? If so, how?